Cablegate: Embassy Rangoon Conducts Hiv/Aids Training for All

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: 03 BANGKOK 4203

1. Summary. Embassy Rangoon has completed HIV/AIDS
awareness training for all current mission staff in
accordance with the Department of State's HIV/AIDS workplace
policy and a Plan of Action established at the July 2003
HIV/AIDS Chiefs of Mission Conference in Bangkok, at which
COMs committed to "conducting HIV/AIDS awareness training for
every person under our authority." (reftel) Training
seminars ran throughout 2004, with the entire staff
(including all agencies, direct- and local-hire personnel,
and FSNs) attending mandatory sessions that covered topics
such as HIV/AIDS transmission, prevention, treatment,
societal impact, and overcoming negative perceptions and
stigma associated with this disease. The training was an
overall success and also significantly contributed to the
knowledge of Embassy personnel in combating HIV/AIDS in
Burma, where an estimated 1.9 % of the population is infected
with the HIV virus. End Summary.

2. Embassy Rangoon, in conjunction with a local NGO, held
eighteen classes of 20 employees each between April 30 and
September 20, providing HIV/AIDS training for all Embassy
workgroups and sections. The three-hour, interactive
seminars (at a reasonable cost to the mission of roughly
$9.00 per person) were given in both English and Burmese,
with 278 Locally Employed Staff (LES) and approximately 47
American personnel attending the training sessions in mixed
groups. The courses taught participants about transmission,
prevention, and treatment through multimedia presentations,
games, open question-and-answer sessions, and activities that
tested knowledge of HIV/AIDS issues.

The Myanmar Business Coalition on AIDS

3. The Myanmar Business Coalition on AIDS (MBCA), a local
NGO that specializes in providing workplace HIV/AIDS training
to businesses and large organizations, conducted the classes
for the U.S. mission. Founded in 2000, MBCA has been funded
by AusAID, the Fund for HIV/AIDS in Myanmar (FHAM), and many
local businesses. The organization's stated mission is to
bring corporate resources to assist in HIV/AIDS prevention
and to promote nondiscrimination policies and education
programs in the workplace. MBCA staff is comprised of local
doctors and health educators that make "house calls,"
bringing their demonstrations and classes into the workplace.

Feedback from Staff

4. The feedback from our local staff was overwhelmingly
positive. One key impact of the training was a broadly
expressed intent of employees to share the information
learned with family and friends. Several LES employees also
commented on the lack of sex education in the Burmese school
system, compounded by parental reluctance to discuss sexual
issues with children. For some employees, the Embassy
HIV/AIDS training was the only sex education they had ever
received. Several LES asked about holding follow-up classes
and discussion groups. One staff member commented that
although Burmese media had changed considerably in the past
decade, presenting a more western approach to sex and
male-female relations, there was no practical information on
sexual health readily available to the general population.

5. The post health unit staff also attended a session to
observe the training techniques of MBCA, and our post
physician opined that from a medical standpoint the sessions
were well conducted, significantly raising HIV/AIDS awareness
in our embassy community. American staff members also
expressed a positive view of the training and, even though
many felt they were already knowledgeable on HIV/AIDS issues,
concluded that the sessions served as a good refresher.

6. Comment: As follow-up steps, Embassy Rangoon is
considering holding advanced training sessions and running
future classes on a regular basis in order to provide
training for new embassy staff and for eligible family
members and household employees. End Comment.

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